The Statute of Westminster

Cause and Consequence:Related image

Before Canada had the desire for independence, Britain was the mother nation that always had overriding authority. The Dominions – Canada, Australia, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa, and Irish Free State – being part of the great British Empire, constantly followed through with Britain’s orders and political stances. However, this changed after the first World War. Joining World War 1 was an unwilling decision made by the overruling British Empire. It was more so a forced decision because Britain felt threatened by the German control over Belgium. Originally, the Canadian Parliament had no intentions of participating in the war, but since Britain made the executive choice, Canada got pulled into the action. After the war ended in 1918, Canada began to increasingly assert independence and autonomy. Finally, in the late 1920s, Canada displayed its sign of sovereignty by requesting a law (later to be known as the Statute of Westminster) in which they received full legal freedom.

Historical Perspective:

The passing of the Statute of Westminster law was beneficial to Canada as a whole. Therefore, most Canadian citizens at the time were supportive of this action that granted their country autonomy. Unfortunately, little to no information about the perspectives of Canadians on this event was disclosed to the public. Based on my research, there is limited access to evidence that clearly states how Canadians viewed the Statute of Westminster during the Interwar time period. Although there is no concrete proof, we can infer that people in the 1920s-1930s were relieved to hear that the law was passed by Britain. Only the bare minimal population that liked or wanted to be under the British influence were not satisfied, but it is not likely that this is the case. The Statute stated that “nations were granted the freedom to pass their own laws without the consent of British Parliament, and Britain was no longer able to void or alter laws made in its Dominions” (Cuggy, 2011). In other words, Dominions were able to repeal and amend their own laws without British interference, which was the actual step taken to Canadian independence.

Continuity and Change:

Many aspects of Canadian history were changed due to the implementation of the Statute. Political values were the most affected by the law, considering it was a law that allowed Canada independence from British laws and regulations. With this, the Canadian government was given the independence it needed to build a legislative foundation. However, it is also important to recognize the difference between the Statute of Westminster and the Balfour Report. Both being a declaration of constitutional equality and independence for the Dominions, after the Balfour Report was instituted, Canada still remained linked to Britain politically, but legal power had shifted to the Canadian Parliament and its prime minister. It took several decades before Canada got all its powers (from the Statue of Westminster}, but fairly quickly this shift led to an independent Canadian foreign policy. On the other hand, the Statute “clarified the status of Canada and the Dominions as independent states with international legal personality (as opposed to self-governing entities of Great Britain)”, which was what the Balfour Declaration expressed (Parcasio, 2017).

Historical Significance:

The Statute of Westminster, Chapter 4. This page declares that the following pages of the document are resolutions made within the years of 1926 and 1931 regarding the legal freedom of the Dominions. (see below)

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William Lyon Mackenzie King (former Prime Minister) with the Premiers of Quebec and Ontario. This photo was taken at the Imperial Conference in 1926, where the passing of the Statute took place.

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The passing of the Statute of Westminster was the true moment Canada became autonomous. Although Canada had most of its political freedom granted with the Balfour Report in 1926, it did not use their autonomy to full potential until later on after the Statute was enacted. In fact, many Canadians in that period believed that Britain wasn’t foreign, and was a great imperialistic nation in which Canada should have been a follower to. During the interwar years, Canada explored their freedom and recognized that it was no longer a subordinate to any higher power. This event was indeed a stepping stone to Canadian autonomy. However, the rising of independence was a “gradual change”, as many events in the following years helped Canada gain the political autonomy it has today (Hillmer, 2006). For instance, until 1982, Britain still remained in power when deciding or allowing amendments and alterations of the British North American Acts. This changed after the Constitution Act of 1982, when Canada was able to complete some unfinished business regarding its independence. The Constitution Act stated that Canadians were able to amend and repeal their own constitution without needing the approval of the British Parliament.

Canadian Autonomy Timeline Inquiry

The Chanak Crisis

The Chanak Crisis is important for establishing Canadian autonomy and independence because Canada’s actions helped to define its role in the British Empire. In the Chanak Crisis, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was advancing on Constantinople in the neutral zone, Britain called on it’s Dominions for help and troops. Both Canada and Australia were reeling from losses in World War 1, and were not interested in getting involved in another war. Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister at the time, chose to defer the matter to Parliament instead of blindly giving Britain troops. This was the first time in Canadian history Canada chose to say no to Britain, and instead allow Parliament, an extension of its people, to determine it’s fate. The actions of the Prime Minister and Canadian government sent a message that Canada wanted more independence and a seperate foreign policy from Great Britain.

The Halibut Treaty

The Halibut Treaty was important for establishing Canadian autonomy and identity because this was the first time Canada had negotiated a treaty entirely seperate from Great Britain. In 1916 and 1917, the halibut fish stocks in the Pacific were declining, in an industry was primarily in Canadian waters and dominated by American fishermen, the two countries, Canada and American, decided to hold the American-Canadian Fisheries Conference, where they drafted a treaty outlying halibut management, tariffs, port sharing, and submitted it to their respective governments. This bill was block by the US Senate, and the two nations met again to discuss just the issue of halibut conservation. This treaty, and the subsequent commission it established created a closed season and carried out it’s own scientific research. Everyone in this situation was happy, from the individual fishermen to the Canadian and American governments. Britain, however, was not happy as they were not included in negotiations and they did not countersign the bill, due to Mackenzie King’s insistence. Canada’s actions, while technically illegal at the time, signaled to the British government that Canada was ready for more independence and autonomous.

World Conflicts DOL: The Battle of Passchendaele

Cause and Consequence:

A Field of Mud

As the Soviets on the Eastern Front began to pull out of the war in 1917, Field Marshal Douglas Haig worried that the redeployment of German soldiers on the Western Front would damage the war effort against the German Empire. With his options thinning out, Haig proposed a quick offensive on the Western Front to push the front line from the city of Ypres through the German 4th Army’s defensive position to reach Passchendaele, a small town that was about eight kilometers from a city with a railroad that supplied the German Army. The start of the battle on July 31st was marked by ten days of artillery bombardment against the German positions, doing little damage to the fortifications that had been previously built up. The allies’ infantry attack began soon after. In the south the French First Army, led by François Anthoine, and the British Second Army, led by Hubert Plumer, made strong progress. However, the main force in the north, the British Fifth Army, led by Hubert Gough, made little progress. Throughout the battle, unrelenting rain poured down onto the battlefield, transforming the ground into a muddy swamp and filling in artillery impact craters with water. These conditions caused the battle to slow to a halt, as most movement and advancement attempts were prevented by the horrid conditions. Mud clogged up guns, tanks became stuck, and eventually, some infantry and cavalry units drowned in the ground. The deaths of around 275,000 British soldiers made it clear that without extra help, the battle of Passchendaele and the remainder of the British campaign would result in two losses. After the British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops all failed their assault on the German defensive positions, the Canadian Corps, led by Arthur Currie, were called in October to help salvage the battle and the British campaign. Although Currie initially objected to letting Canadians into the battle due to the likelihood of a large number of lives being lost, he eventually realized that without Canadian help, the British war campaign would die out, meaning a loss for the Allies. When the Canadians finally arrived at the Western Front on October 26th, Currie ordered better roads and improvements to the gun-pits, as well as the transportation of artillery shells to the front line to prepare for an improved infantry attack. On November 10th, 1917, the Allies, with the aid of the Canadian forces captured the village ruins of Passchendaele, ending the battle of Passchendaele, showing the world that Canada was no longer a weak puppet of Britain, but a strong military force independent from Britain’s rule.


Historical Perspective:

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Similarly to the Boer war, which was another war in Canada’s past involving Britain, Canada was divided over whether Canada should continue to support Britain in their military endeavors, specifically the battle of Passchendaele. However, the opinions of many people were less strong than in the conflict over the Boer war. The British people wanted the Canadian Corps to be sent over to support Britain against the German defenses, while some others argued the same point; young Canadian men should not be dying in Europe for someone else’s war. However, the Canadians directly involved with the war effort viewed the battle as a noble cause, and realized that it was in Canada’s overall best interest to help the Allies stop the Central powers. Despite this, many, such as Arthur Currie, were reluctant to go into the battle, due to the conditions and the outlook of the battle so far. However, after the Canadian Corps helped out the Allies in securing Passchendaele, the general public of Canada saw the decision to send the Canadian Corps in as a great idea, and boosted the morale of the country, as well as the outlook of the war.

Continuity and Change:

After news of Canada’s Army returned from Europe regarding the battle of Passchendaele, the change in views of Canada as a military force had changed dramatically. It had been a widely known fact that the Canadian Corps being sent into the battle of Passchendaele were a very small group compared to the British and German Armies, but when the Canadian troops arrived, they tipped the scales in the allies favor, allowing them to reach their goal of capturing Passchendaele. When Canadians heard about this, the country’s morale was boosted, changing the way that Canadians thought about their military strength. Compared to outlook on Canada as a military power during the naval issue that occurred during Laurier’s time as Prime Minister, the country’s reaction after the battle of Passchendaele, the view that Canada was militarily weak was replaced by pride for the Canadian soldiers that completely changed the outcome of a battle.

Historical Significance:

The battle of Passchendaele solidified Canada as more politically autonomous, as Britain did not force them into battle like a pawn, and Canada also made the biggest difference when they joined the battle. Months of hard-fought battles had worn down the British in the battle of Passchendaele, and with the British campaign morale running low, Britain was in no condition to bark orders at Canada. Instead, Britain and Canada were now at an equal level, rather than an empire and a push-able colony. Instead of forcing Canada into helping them with the battle, Canada was persuaded to help, but could have broken away and ignored the war. However, Canada chose to help out with the war effort, as it was in their best interest to support the Allies. This led to the deployment of the Canadian Corps onto the battlefield, which drastically changed the tide of battle. Arthur Currie, though he had just recently showed up to the battlefield, was allowed full control over most of the processes and preparations that went on before the infantry attack, showing us that Canada was given some political power to call the shots independently. In addition, the Canadian Corps, although lower in numbers, helped the allies claim more land and led the final push to the ruins of Passchendaele. This showed the world that Canada had not only become politically independent from Britain, but also become a strong nation without much help, and was now fully autonomous over it’s own decisions. This also affirmed the beliefs of Robert Borden, Canada’s Prime Minister during the world war one, that the battle of Passchendaele was proof that Canada had reached independent nationhood. Moreover, Canada’s participation in the battle of Passchendaele made them socially autonomous as well. While the British campaign was beginning to fail, and the British morale began to drop, Canada’s morale was high despite the state of the battle. As soon as Canadian troops came to relieve the British and Australian troops, the morale was boosted, showing that instead of Canada following Britain’s social climate, it had it’s own, and was independent enough to give back to Britain.

Interwar: The Great Depression

After World War I, Canada faced the Roaring 20s with huge economic growth. Soldiers were back from battlefields, businesses began running up again, and more people entered the workforce. Stable jobs gave workers the confidence to spend their income on consumer goods. Now this branches into different categories that eventually lead to The Great Depression.


Businesses that were making a profit from selling consumer goods decided to expand their company. What better way to make money than from producing more products to sell? But oh no, the increase in productions lead to OVERPRODUCTION. Surplus of products began piling up and businesses began slowing down manufacturing. Employers ultimately began laying off workers or paying lower wages. This started a cycle:



Stock Market Crash:

People with money looked to the American stock market as another source of income. Why be rich when you can spend money to become even richer? Canadians, as well as people from around the world, began investing in stocks.

Speculating: Stocks bought on margin → borrowed money. An individual would sell stocks, repay the loan, and receive massive profit. This resulted in massive inflation of stock prices

Industries such as the Wheat industry began dropping prices due to overproduction and competition with other countries. Companies couldn’t justify their stock prices anymore and they began to drop.

On October 24, 1929, also known as Black Thursday, investors finally realized the drop in stocks and began selling their shares. $12.9 million shares of stocks were sold. This catastrophe continues in a chain reaction and by October 29, 1929, dubbed Black Tuesday, the market crashed. 16.4 million shares were sold and price stickers couldn’t keep up. The market lost $14 billion that day.

Reliance on Exports:

Canada’s economy relied heavily on exporting basic products to other countries. These products (called staples) included wheat, fish, timber, minerals, and crops. In fact, 40% of Canada’s exports were bought by America. From 1925-1929, Canada sold record amounts of crops for record prices but by the end of the 1920s, other countries also had a lot of crops to sell and the competition was tough. Canadian farmers were left with large quantities of unsold wheat and they were forced to drop prices dramatically.


Canadian Prairies faced many droughts through 1930. The dry weather and lack of rain allowed strong winds to pick up dust. Large dust storms destroyed farms and land. Without crops to export, many farms and railways went bankrupt


The consequences of The Great Depression affected the world globally. Canada was hit particularly hard due to our reliance on America and international trade. When the economy started to fall, everyday life for Canadians changed.

Bank Failures:

People who had personal bank accounts were affected as well. The stock market was so appealing that banks took out money from customer accounts to invest. When the market crashed, fractions of their customer’s money was lost. They were only paid back 10 cents for every dollar they had in their account. Hundreds of banks went bankrupt, and many people lost their life savings.


By 1933, 30% of Canada’s population was unemployed and 1 out of 5 Canadians depended on government relief, which was still not enough for basic survival. This lead to poverty and homelessness. Without income, families struggled to provide food and basic utilities for themselves.


As the title of the crisis states, the great depression brought hardships and suffering to Canadians. Before the stock market crash, Canadians put their faith in the system. Greed blinded many people as they continued to invest their life savings. It wasn’t until the reality of overproduction settled in when people began selling stocks at record amounts. From the tragedy of the Great Depression, Canadians learned just how delicate the economy was.


It was not until world war II when the great depression would come to its end. The increase in jobs provided by the demand for industries


New acts and policies were implemented to avoid another economic downfall.


dol – Canada Roaring 20s

Cause and Consequence

The roaring 20s was the period directly following World War I. As such, Canadians were eager to enjoy life, leading to increased innovation, consumerism, and prosperity. Canada underwent significant cultural, political and economic change. The beginning of the 20s was marked by Canada joining the League of Nations, an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference which ended World War I. With separate representation in the League of Nations and decision-making autonomy, Canada began to see itself as an independent nation.

Economic Factors:  The 20s began with a weaker economy. As soldiers returned from the war, Canadians initially struggled to find jobs. This sudden economic transition also led to a crash in the farmers wheat market, sparking the establishment of the Progressive Party of Canada. However, Canada’s economy flourished in the mid-twenties, with its dependence shifting from Britain to the United States. Foreign demand for Canadian raw goods such as wheat and timber increased. The urbanization of Canada’s economy shifted the focus of the economy from farming to industry and services. Additionally, the US’s involvement in bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition impacted the Canadian black market. Prohibition was completely in effect in the US, but was repealed in Canada in the 20s and replaced by government regulation. Despite the US’s help in growing Canada’s economy, the US exploited Canada’s reliance through setting up businesses in Canada to avoid paying taxes. The US also smuggled alcohol from Canadian manufacturers.

Social Factors: Though the Roaring 20s may seem like a liberating era, social issues still existed within Canada. After the military discharged soldiers, they struggled to adapt to normal life. Women’s suffrage vastly increased and the role of women changed, including the rise of “flapper” culture and heightened freedom. However, though they were finally allowed to vote, women were still struggling to earn decent wages and combat inequality. In 1929 women were at least granted the right to be considered “persons under Canadian law” which allowed them to qualify for appointment to the Senate. This law excluded Asian women. In the 20s, a collective union of all the workers in Canada called One Big Union (OBU) formed to protest unfair working wages in Canada. 

Technology and quality of life drastically improved. Increased demand for automobiles led to highway construction. Radio stations and music grew in popularity, and medical inventions such as insulin were developed in this era.

Historical Perspective:

Canadians at the time were very optimistic about the 20s. Especially given the ending of the World War, Canadians were excited about the coming times.

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In terms of labour, labour unions gained traction.

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Most Canadians did not look favorably upon prohibition.

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Continuity and Change

This era dramatically shifted Canadian values. Canada began to view itself as an independent nation with its own values and norms. Unions and farmers led to progressive parties that pushed for welfare for farmers and labourers. Increased women’s suffrage and the implementation of prohibition increased women’s voices in the general public and led to a far more liberal culture. Robert Borden’s administration saw prohibition as a way to use women’s suffrage to gain a second (delayed) mandate and, simultaneously, a victory on the issue of conscription. The rise of advertisements increased consumerism and innovation that led to the development of several products. The Roaring 20s was a time period that sparked the modern norms of today, including women’s rise and economic innovation.

Historical Significance

Socials DOL: Battle of the Atlantic

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Image of a German U-boat

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle throughout all of World War 2, in which Canada plays a key role. The battle began just after Britain declared war on Germany; a U-boat, a German submarine, fired a torpedo at a passenger ship known as the SS Athenia on September, 1939. The SS Athenia was on it’s way to Montréal with over 1,400 passengers, of which 112 people were killed in the attack. By cutting off Britain’s supply of food and supplies, Germany could force them out of the war and greatly improve their chance of emerging victorious. The Battle of the Atlantic was a critical component in the victory of the Allies. A week after the attack on the SS Athenia, Canada declared war on Germany, and joined the fight. The battle was going in favour of the Axis powers at the beginning; the German U-boats developed a strategy walled the ‘wolf pack’, where multiple U-boats joined together into one compact formation and torpedoed their target simultaneously. The target wouldn’t have time to react, as multiple torpedoes tore into the vessel at the same time. The U-boats were able to sink numerous merchant vessels with this technique, and it wasn’t until the Allies developed anti-submarine technology enabling long-range detection, and radars to pinpoint where German U-boats were. However, many times the Germans were able to bypass this with tactics of their own, such as surfacing their U-boats until they needed to submerge, since the Allies’ radars could only detect underwater vessels. To recognize Canada’s important role in this battle, the entire Northwest Atlantic was put into Canadian control. Rear Admiral Leonard Murray was appointed as commander-in-chief, and Murray was the only “Canadian to ever to command an Allied theatre of conflict in either the First or Second World Wars,” meaning that Murray was the one and only Canadian soldier to ever be put in such a high position ( Murray was incredibly proud of this role, being the only Canadian to receive such honour throughout both global conflicts. When the battle first began, Canada’s navy was small, consisting of 6 destroyer ships and a navy of 3,500 personnel.

At the beginning, Canada’s primary role in the battle was to escort the convoys across the Atlantic Ocean and protect them from German attacks. In order to fulfill its role in the battle, Canada began to mass manufacture ships, crafting dozens of smaller warships known as ‘corvettes’. These ‘corvettes’ were half the size of a destroyer, and possessed one gun along with depth charges; they were cheap to manufacture, and soon became a large portion of the Canadian navy. At the time, escorting merchant boats was “onerous and dangerous work”, and “Canadians shared in the worst hardships experienced in the war at sea” ( This battle was definitely viewed as a difficult one by many Canadians at the time, and it was hard to know who would emerge victorious. Canadians were worried about the fate of the Atlantic Ocean, because if the Axis powers were able to knock Britain out of the fight it would secure a victory for them, and the course of history would drastically be changed. One of the largest ‘what if’ statements asked worldwide is ‘what if the Nazis won WW2?’, and this likely would’ve happened if the Battle of the Atlantic was lost to Germany.

During the Battle of the Atlantic, Canada was pressured to improve its naval force. Many individuals decided to join the Royal Canadian Navy because either they required a job, or they wanted to help fight for their country so the Axis powers didn’t win the war. This battle at sea inspired Canada to expand its naval force, and another value formed: for Canada to build a powerful sea force that other countries could fear. As a country that played an influential role in the outcome of this event, our naval force became a significant part of our identity during the Battle of the Atlantic. Canada gained a reputation for being a country with a powerful naval force, something it wasn’t known for before the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Royal Canadian Navy

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Canadian Navy Fleet

Canada started the battle with “only six destroyers and about 3,500 personnel,” and in order to rise up to its role in the fight the navy had to expand ( 3,500 personnel is nothing compared to the USA’s total count of 337,349 active personnel, recorded in 1941 ( After some mass production of ships and personnel, Canada’s became a lot more economically autonomous in terms of their naval force. By the end of the Battle of the Atlantic, Canada went from a “handful of ships and a few thousand personnel” to a “major fleet, with more than 400 ships and 90,000 sailors. By war’s end, Canada had the fourth-largest navy in the world” ( We went from 3,500 sailors to 90,000, twenty-five times the original number. The amount of work that was put into our Canadian navy was insane, and the fact that we were able to expand our fleet over twenty times the original size is something to be proud of. By improving our military forces on the sea, we become a lot more economically distant from Britain, who originally supplied us with ships to battle with and sent boats to protect us. We can now show that we know how to defend ourselves autonomously, without leaning on other countries such as Britain for help.


The Hundred Days

WWI was the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. Snipers, artillery and machine guns made passing the enemy line difficult, and military leaders on both sides struggled to devise new tactics and strategies to deal with this kind of warfare. Many times, soldiers were simply sent “over the top” to charge the enemy trenches head-on in attacks that cost many lives with no significant gain. As a result, the Allies were struggling. In 1918, Germany started launching a series of major offenses that pushed the Allied lines back to within 70 kilometers of Paris. This was to be Germany’s last major effort to win the war because they had overextended their army. After years of war, their resources of men and supplies were getting low. At the same time, the Allied forces were being reinforced by American troops with the entry of the United States into the war. All of these circumstances combined allowed the Allies to regroup and begin making their own major push to end the war. Their efforts and successes would soon be known as The Hundred Days.

Canada’s success through battles such as Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele and gave Canadian’s the reputation of the best attacking troops on the Western Front. Their abilities were so well-known that even their presence on a section of the front would warn the enemy that an attack was coming. This meant that secrecy was of utmost importance while moving Canadian troops in preparation for the attacks. Before a crucial fight in France that would mark the beginning of The Hundred Days, Canadian troops were sent Belgium in an attempt to trick the Germans into thinking that a major attack would occur their. This tactic was successful, and the Germans were completely caught off guard when the Canadians secretly rushed back to the Amiens sector for the real attack.

On August 8th, Canada led an offensive that advanced the Western Front twenty kilometers in just three days. This attack was launched without a long preliminary artillery bombardment as was usually done, which typically warned the enemy that an attack was coming, and the Germans were caught completely offguard. This breakthrough crushed enemy morale, with the Geman high commander at the time calling it “the black day of the Geman Army”. This victory and the hopes of the war ending soon motivated the Allies to continue their attack. The Canadian’s were moved to Arras with the goal of breaking the Hindenburg Line,  the enemy’s main defense line at that time. After a week of fighting against some of Germany’s finest troops, in terrain that gave the enemy the advantage, the Canadians broke the Drocourt-Quéant Line in front of the Hindenburg Line by Sept. 2.

The next step was the Canal Du Nord, which formed part of the main Hindenburg Line. The Canal was only partially completed, which made it a difficult place to attack. But Canadian Corps Commander Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie and his men, along with a British division crossed a 2500 meter wide dry part of the canal. However, this spot was a bottleneck that could cause allied troops and equipment to bunch up and become easy targets. To cover the advance, Currie release the heaviest single-day bombardment of the entire war. The Canadians broke three lines of German defense and captured Bourlon Wood. With the help of other successes along the British front, the Hindenburg line was breached.

After further heavy fighting, Canadians helped capture the town of Cambrai and by October 11 the Corps had reached the Canal de la Sensée. This was the last action taken by the Corps as a whole but the individual Canadian divisions continued to fight, overcoming stiff German resistance and helping capture Mont Houy and Valenciennes by the beginning of November. The armistice was finally signed on November 11, 1918. Canadians fought to the very end with the war’s last Canadian combat death—Private George Lawrence Price—happening just two minutes before the fighting officially ended. The war was finally over.

The Canadian army was quite unique in several respects when compared to other countries’ troops involved in the first world war. For example, it was an all volunteer force.This meant that they had a very different profile to the industrialized ‘slum dwellers’ of Manchester or the estate workers of Germany. Canadians were “unaccustomed to showing respect and deference to anyone who could not stand firmly on their own two feet without the support of wealth or title.” (John J. Pershing). The Canadian troops strongly represented Canadian identity at the time. They were a young country full of misfits that immigrated from countries where they felt they couldn’t express themselves. Despite their ‘rag-tag’ nature, the Canadian troops were extremely successful throughout the world war. According to Arther Currie, the Canadian troops “[showed] that even in trench warfare it is possible to mystify and mislead the enemy”. The confidence that Canada gained through their successes in the World War would significantly impact their national identity, as it proved that Canadians were truly a force to be reckoned with.

All of the Canadians involved in the attacks during The Hundred Days were proud to represent their country and portray their national identity.  When Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie was questioned about Canada’s role in the war, he replied: “I am a good enough Canadian to believe […] that Canadians are best served by Canadians.”. Furthermore, Stephan Leacock wrote that despite the growing losses and increasing intensity of the war, “ The spirit of Canada [rose] to meet the danger as the sea bird rises before the blackening storm.” This shows that although the war was full of tragedy and loss, the Canadian’s never gave up hope and continued to fight for the safety of their country and the rest of the world.

Between August 8 and November 11, more than 100,000 Canadians advanced 130 kilometres and captured approximately 32,000 prisoners and nearly 3,800 artillery pieces, machine guns and mortars. The importance of Canadian troops within the first world war significantly increased their social and political autonomy and independence. Although Canadians fought as allies of the British, Canada soon became well known for their own abilities. “By 1918, the self-governing colony that had trusted it’s fate to British statecraft was not only committed to speaking with it’s own voice in the world, it had won on the battlefield the right to be heard.” (Morton and Granatstein, 1989). Canada’s accomplishments had earned it a newfound respect, both at home and around the world, and a recognition as an independent country. An example of this is represented through Canada’s separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the First World War. The war also served as an example of the country’s commitment to defend peace and freedom, a value that they would continue to demonstrate in the years to come.

That being said, the Canadian triumphs during The Hundred Days came at a high price. More than 6,800 Canadians and Newfoundlanders were killed and approximately 39,000 wounded during the last three months of fighting. By the end of the First World War, Canada, which at the time was a country of less than eight million citizens, would see more than 650,000 men and women serve in uniform. The conflict took a great toll, with more than 66,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders dying and 170,000 being wounded. The sacrifices and achievements of those who gave so much in the effort to restore peace and freedom are not forgotten.

War Against Japan

Cause and Consequence: What were the causes and most important aspects of your chosen event related to the guiding question?

For the Japanese, one of the main causes for rapid South-East Asian expansion was the rise of right-wing political leaders after World War I. These national leaders advocated for Hakkō ichiu which was a Japanese philosophy that all of Asia should be ruled under one roof, the roof of the Japanese Emperor. The growing philosophy in the 1920s and 1930s also stated that to support Japan’s industrial growth, Japan would need more resources and foreign territories made the perfect target. Japan set its eyes on China and specifically the capital of Nanking. Japan’s invasion of China is what started the Second Sino-Japanese War which was a precursor to the Pacific War. Although allied forces were originally on the side of Japan as Japan was an ally from WWI, after the “Rape of Nanking” in 1937, allied and communist powers began siding with China. U.S.A began a trade embargo on oil against Japan following the invasion of China and even said that Japan needed to leave China before a negotiation could happen. Japan retaliated from this embarrassment with one of the greatest coordianted air and naval raids in history, the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Below is a chart exemplifying Japan’s spread into Asia.

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For Britain, the War Against Japan did not truly start until December 8, 1941 when the British colony of Malaya, Singapore, Burma, and Hong Kong were under attack. Japan made this strategic move specifically because they knew that the Pearl Harbour bombing would set back the U.S.A a bit which meant they only had to fight off the troops currently stationed in the colonies. Specifically, this is relevant to Canada because Canadian soldiers were stationed in all of these British colonies, especially Hong Kong having almost 2000 Canadian soldiers.

For U.S.A, the bombing of Pearl Harbour was the signal that war was ahead. The day after the bombings, America officially declared war on Japan. Another reason why America was mad at Japan was because the day after Pearl Harbour, Japan began its invasion on the Philippines as well which was an overseas territory of the U.S.A at the time.

In terms of causes of the Pacific War, Canada isn’t as relevant but there still is a big takeaway from the situation. Canadian blood was shed in the British colonies which was a big disgrace and setback for the growing Canada. However, Canada managed to grow in a different way as they got more politically autonomous by declaring war on Japan.

Historical Perspective: How was your researched event viewed by Canadians at the time? How do you know?

One of the biggest Canadian movements against Japanese was actually in its own nation. In 1942, during the ongoing Pacific War, Japanese internment camps were created under the pretext of “national security.” This event of racial discrimination showcased Canada’s fear of local Japanese and the idea that they may be in communications with the Empire of Japan. The fear was also furthered by the Pearl Harbour bombing as Canadians began to fear if a similar event would happen to them. The Canadians also held a sort of anger towards the Japanese as they had killed many Canadian soldiers during the invasion of the British colonies. The act showcased Canada growing autonomously both socially and politically. It was political growth as Canada took it into their own hands to handle the affairs of Japanese residents in Canada and it was social as they built these rules upon their own perspective of Japanese people.

Continuity and Change: To what extent did this event or idea affect Canadian social, political, or economic norms or values?

Politically, the Pacific War put Canada into a spin as lots of political negotiations and agreements started to pop up in the nation and outside of the nation with the growing threat of the Empire of Japan looming over them. The most obvious political movement caused by the Japanese was the declaration of war against Japan drafted by William Lyon Mackenzie King, the reigning Prime Minister. Socially, Canada began to build up anger as Canadian soldiers were killed and captured on British land by the Japanese. The war drastically changed Canadian values at the time as because of the war, Canada began to imprison Japanese residents. Before the war, this sort of blatant discrimination would be fought against, but the pretext of “national security” won the hearts of many Canadians as their values had been twisted by the onslaught of Japanese expansion. Economically, Canada actually reached major success. Due to the war, Canada began focusing lots of economic prowess on building ships and aircrafts which actually doubled their GDP coming from the end of The Great Depression. The new norms on where the economy should be focused on actually propelled Canada to greater economic heights.

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Historical Significance: In what ways, specifically, did your event contribute to Canada’s social, political, or economic autonomy? Provide evidence from primary and secondary sources.

As mentioned earlier, the threat of the Japanese boosted Canada into further political autonomy. When Canadians heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbour, they immediately drafted the declaration to support their aggravated allies and to protect themselves from similar actions. The decision to create Japanese Internment Camps was both social and political as it was Canada’s own autonomy that decided to make this political act that affect Canada’s global social scene as a whole. In terms of economics, it was the Pacific War that made Canada focus more of its economy on military as Canada was scared for her own safety. The showcase of economic autonomy worked out very well for Canada and ended up boosting the economy and trade.

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Interwar Years – King-Byng Affair and Balfour Report

The King-Byng Affair and the Balfour Report can be considered two different events, one influenced by the other. However, when considered as a part of a chronological sequence of events, the King-Byng Affair and the Balfour Report can be merged into one phenomenon, bringing about a revolution of Canadian identity.


Cause and Consequence
Prime Minister King

Prime Minister King

The King-Byng Affair is considered Canada’s most significant constitutional crisis, pitting the powers of the Governor General and the Prime Minister against each other, in 1926. In October 1925, the results of an election had resulted in a Conservative majority. The Prime Minister at the time, William Lyon Mackenzie King, was a Liberal and refused to hand over power to the Conservative majority. It was here that the crisis truly began.

Governor General Byng

Governor General Byng

During a motion in 1926, Prime Minister King asked Governor General Lord Julian Byng of Vimy to dissolve Parliament and call new elections. The Governor General refused. Calling for dissolution while a motion was in debate? Preposterous! It had never been done before. Inadvertently, this refusal sparked a series of events that resulted in another election that took place on September 14th, 1926. The Liberals won, flooding into Parliament as the majority once again. This victory sparked a realization within Canadians, that Britain did not, and should not have power over Canadian governance.

1926 Imperial Conference

1926 Imperial Conference in London

It was this newfound sense of identity that Prime Minister King brought with him to the Imperial Conference in London. This conference took place from October to November in 1926, just a month after the success of the Liberals, and brought together the Dominions of Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the Irish Free State. All the Dominions had something in common; a sense of identity separate from Britain. During this conference, Canada and the other Dominions, especially South Africa, advocated strongly for their independence, questioning the constitutional authority of Britain over their own proceedings. With their combined efforts, the Balfour Report was written, formalizing the status of the Dominions as constitutionally equal to Britain. The King-Byng Affair brought upon the mindset of independence and the Balfour Declaration confirmed it; Canada was an independent state.


Historical Perspective
Election in September, 1926

Election in September 1926

The people at the time were just like the people of today. It was political drama! Political scandals and rivalries flooded the news, attracting the attention of Canadians. However, this allowed the Liberals and the Conservatives to use this to their advantage. It was through their campaigns that they dramatized the event, doing their best to sway the people; they needed votes for the upcoming election. The Conservative’s platform fired off attacks against the Liberal party, accusing them of scandals and misconduct, in an attempt to slander their name. On the other hand, the Liberals accused the Conservative party of scheming with the Governor General, that Britain was trying to limit Canada’s autonomy and right to govern themselves. What did the Canadians think?

Canada and Britain

Canada and Britain

At this point in time, Canadians were divided over the concern of whether they were British or not. The values from the Laurier Era had taken root, and World War I had only pushed Canadians to feel the rift between their own identity as subjects of a Dominion and as Canadians, but there was no clear definition. However, with the results of the 1926 election, it became evident that the majority of Canadians disproved of the Governor General’s defiance of the request for the dissolution of Parliament and of British interference with Canadian governance. The Liberals achieved a resounding victory, seizing a majority government that would remain powerful for future terms.


Continuity and Change
Canada's Maple Leaf

Canada’s Maple Leaf

The King-Byng affair altered the way Canadians viewed themselves. If the Laurier Era and World War I had planted the seeds, grew the roots that would become a unique Canadian identity, the King-Byng affair was what made it sprout. As this sense of identity grew and grew, Prime Minister King carried the nascent sapling of Canadian identity with him to the Imperial Conference, hoping that a grand tree would sprout someday in the future. With the Balfour Report, Prime Minister King’s hopes were well on their way; Canada was free to grow their own sense of identity, separate from British influence. It’s partly because of the King-Byng affair that the Balfour Report was pushed forward, resulting in the Canada we see today. The Canadian identity we are so proud of today, our strong Maple Tree, has only come to be because of the great care that our predecessors have put into protecting the little sprout.


Historical Significance
British Commonwealth

British Commonwealth

As mentioned previously, the King-Byng affair and the Balfour Report brought Canada to become a state independent of Britain. This marked the creation of the Commonwealth, a new time where the Dominions were equals to Britain. The time of British imperialism was coming to a close and a shift of global powers was set into motion. In Canada, this meant that politics was no longer controlled by the British government and autonomy over self-governance was finally achieved. Even the power of future Governor Generals evened out; no Governor General ever refused the advice of a Prime Minister in the history of Canadian politics. Canada was separate. LIke a child entering adulthood, Canada officially became a country who had their own say at the table amongst other countries.